Onboarding New Employees

Guidelines for Practice Success | Managing The Dental Team

Starting a new job presents many types of stress, some good, some not so good. If you’ve hired the right person, your new employee will begin their first day, and every day after that, prepared to do the best job they possibly can. But they’re also likely to start that first day with some anticipation and perceptions about what they can expect based on their experience visiting the practice and meeting with you and the rest of the team.

Onboarding refers to the official process of welcoming, training, and educating new hires and making sure they have the knowledge, information, skills, and access to resources so they can do their jobs well, be effective in their jobs and contribute to the overall success of the practice. To be effective, onboarding must involve much more than a tour of the office and their workspace, an introduction to staff, and the hand-off of an employee manual with instructions to “Read this.”

A thoughtful and properly executed onboarding plan can do more than make your new employee feel welcome and respected; it can make them comfortable asking questions and offering suggestions, which can be especially difficult when someone is new in a job. If onboarding new employees requires more time or resources than you can commit, consider hiring an outside service that can assist you.

The onboarding of new employees should always include a review of the position’s responsibilities and performances objectives and information about how training will be done and who will do it.

This New Employee Checklist” courtesy of A Dentist’s Guide to the Law: 246 Things Every Dentist Should Know, Fourth Edition, details some of the steps you should take and paperwork you should have available for new employees. While it’s not an all-inclusive list, it is a helpful outline of what you and your team can do to help integrate new employees. You may also find the two Sample New Hire Checklists to be helpful resources.

Other suggestions for onboarding new employees include:

  • Develop a comprehensive training plan that outlines what your onboarding plan includes and who’s responsible for each aspect.

Different steps might be required for clinical versus business staff and responsibilities might be assigned to different people depending on whether the new hire is filling a clinical or business position.

  • Have someone on staff mentor the new employee.

If possible, both individuals should have similar positions, such as assistant or hygienist. It’s also a good idea to identify a “backup” mentor in case the official mentor is unavailable.

  • Encourage them to ask questions.

Make sure everyone on the team knows they’re expected to help the new employee become a successful and contributing member of the team.

  • Remind the new hire that you realize it takes time to learn the systems and processes in a new office.

Make it clear that they need not worry about productivity for at least the first month.

  • If the new hire is part of the clinical team, the other members of that team should familiarize that person with the equipment in each operatory, show them how everything works, and fully describe processes and expectations.
  • Determine if your practice management software program offers tutorials and assessments to train new employees; if it does, take advantage of this resource to have new employees learn the basics before they use the system in real time.
  • Schedule an informal review session to take place once the new employee has been on staff for six months.

Use this meeting as an opportunity for both of you to discuss any knowledge gaps or outstanding questions.

Make sure you delineate between the job description and standard operating procedures in the office manual. Not knowing the difference can create problems, such as when someone needs an accommodation for a disability.


New Employee Checklist, courtesy of A Dentist’s Guide to the Law: 246 Things Every Dentist Should Know, Fourth Edition

Sample New Hire Checklist

Sample New Hire Checklist #2